Monday, June 26, 2006

From the Red Carpet to your Shopping Cart: Green is the New Black

“It has reached its tipping point,” says Susan McCoy, media guru and owner of the Garden Media Group, a marketing and public relations firm in Philadelphia.

McCoy isn’t talking about the rising cost of gas prices, public opinion on the war in Iraq or even the unprecedented real estate boom.

So what is the twenty-year media veteran talking about?

Eco Chic. McCoy says the stylish new trend “is changing everything we do, from the type of cars we drive and the clothes we wear to the food we eat, even the way we build our homes and tend to our gardens.”

But Eco Chic is more than just a green movement; it’s a social perception that living an earth-friendly lifestyle is chic, even cool. Eco Chic is about finding hip “green products” to support that lifestyle.

“Just look at the way this trend is changing gardening,” says Bruce Butterfield, research director at the National Gardening Association.

“Our research tells us that some 5 million American families are using all-natural gardening methods,” says Butterfield.

“The number of households who "definitely plan to use all natural gardening methods in the future" will increase to 8 million, and an additional 12 million say they "probably will".

GREEN THE “IT” STAR OF THE MOMENT

Experts have spent years studying the way trends emerge and then spread like wild fire, but it doesn’t take an anthropologist or an MBA from Harvard Business School to see how the Eco Chic trend is spreading. Even those who get their news from celebrity driven periodicals like US weekly and People magazine can surmise what ignited this ember- celebrities, pure and simple.

“Look back a few years ago when Cameron Diaz started lobbying for the environment,” says McCoy. “When she became public about her commitment to preserving the environment, other celebrities soon followed.”

Suddenly, environmental conservation wasn’t only righteous; it was en vogue.

Today, a slew of celebrities can be found driving hybrid cars and lobbying for better air quality regulations. Leonardo Di Caprio and Drew Barrymore jumped on the bandwagon; even HBO’s Larry David, who plays himself on the hit series Curb Your Enthusiasm, touts a Toyota Prius.

Zazel Loven, senior editor at Organic Gardening magazine feels that celebrities may have spurred the trend but that the movement really caught on when people realized how easy it is to live an earth friendly lifestyle.

“People have opened their eyes to different ways they can conserve and live more in tune with the environment,” says Loven. “Today, recycling isn’t something extra you do; it’s just something you do.”

TWO GREEN THUMBS UP

McCoy, who specializes in gardening-focused communications, says garden companies are developing new earth friendly plants and garden products to meet the growing consumer demand for an eco friendly lifestyle.

“For years we have focused on keeping our outdoors beautiful using fast food fertilizer, pesticides and other chemicals,” she says. “The new focus is on developing naturally disease-resistant plants and earth friendly products for keeping plants healthy and disease free.”

Products like Messenger® (www.messenger.info), a plant health activator that assists plants’ fights against diseases by boosting their immune systems similar to the way a doctor vaccinates patients, is an earth-friendly garden innovation born out of this movement.

Petroleum based products are being replaced on garden center shelves, as well. For instance in the category of super absorbent, water-saving granules, an all-natural cornstarch based alternative, Zeba™ Quench™ (www.zeba.com), is now available. Not only does Quench outperform the others, it is biodegradable.

“People want to know that they are not polluting the air, water or earth,” says Butterfield, “but more importantly, they want to know that they are not hurting their families and pets with the products they use.”

Star® Roses introduced the Knock Out® Shrub rose in 2000, and now it’s practically single handedly driving the whole rose category. Raymond Evison designed his new Patio Clematis®, released last year; to be something previous clematis were not — disease-resistant.

Although most trends are flashes in the pan, McCoy is confident that the green movement is here to stay. In the future, Eco Chic may become too widespread to remain chic, but McCoy is certain that preserving natural resources and working for a better tomorrow is one trend that will never go out of style.

For more Eco Chic green products, visit www.gardenmediagroup.com. While on the website, take the Eco Chic quiz to test your green prowess and review the Q&A for answers to all your Eco Chic questions. Also, stream the Eco Chic podcast for an in-depth interview with Susan McCoy.

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